Fondue in Paris

My Birthday in Paris

I just had the best birthday of all birthdays! It all started the day before leaving to go to Paris while shopping with Shoes_Irregular_Choicefriends on Carnaby Street. We went into my favourite shoe store Irregular Choice where David proceeded to ask me if I wanted my birthday present early this year.  He then went on to say I could pick out any pair of shoes in the entire store for our trip to Paris! I was so happy I teared up a little.

I had my actual birthday in Paris and were fortunate enough to celebrate it with good friends from back home who were traveling with us. They made David and I some breakfast in the morning then we went to the Arc de Triomphe. I didn’t know much about why it was so famous or where the name came from Arc de Triomphebut in shortest terms this originally began construction in 1806 as a glorification of Napoleon and his army. Napoleon said to his soldiers in the Grande Armee, the French army at the time,”You will return home through arches of triumph” after the Austerlitz victory in 1805. Unfortunately for Napoleon, he lost the battle of Waterloo in 1815 and that ended the building project. It later resumed in 1826 and was completed in 1836, not long after his death. The Arc is more of a memorial as the  names of battles during that time are listed with generals who took part in them. The ones that have their names underlined died in battle.

From here we walked down Champs-Élysées and stopped at the Ladurée for some of their famous macaroons, pastries, hot chocolate and coffee. The branding in this place is outstanding, and everything is high quality right up to the Ladureepaper hand towel you use in washroom! I had a selection of mini macaroons; caramel, chocolate, coffee and pistachio flavour. They were crisp of the outside and perfectly smooth in the middle. The story of the Ladurée macaroon actually starts with a guy named Pierre Desfontaines who decided to take the two macaroon shells and join them together with ganache filling. I never knew this but the macaroons are left asidEiffel Towere for 2 days before they put them on sale to achieve ultimate balance between texture and flavour. I can’t wait to try making my own! My favourite was the pistachio, I even bought a larger one to eat later on.

After filling ourselves up with pastry goodness we walked down to the Eiffel Tower. The very top of it was closed so we went up half the way and could see the entire city! I love heights, and had no problem with it, however if you do not like heights I recommend not going up. Later on in the evening we went to Le Refuge des Fondues and had a blast! The place is fun and we had a reservation so didn’t have to wait in the line up out the door. The ladies all have to climb over the tables to get to the other side where they sit, so note the length of your dress and height of heels if you choose to visit here. Here’s a video of our friend trying to get across the table.

The fondue I thought was great, we had meat and cheese. The wine is also served in spill proof baby bottles. With the tables so close together, they have to be. The walls were all written on, as well as displaying bills of money from travelers all over the world, and you chatted with whoever was sitting next to you. It was lots of fun and I highly recommend going to this place with friends while in Paris. It is located in Montmartre, a beautiful area to begin with.

Piccadilly Circus

Shopping Oxford St., Carnaby St. & Piccadilly Circus

No matter what your budget you can find a perfect place to shop in London to match it. Recently we found some stores that would match our budget as a student and freelancer in the top shopping destination in London. Oxford St., Carnaby St.  & Piccadilly Circus is where you need to go!

Our first stop was to Topshop on Oxford Street. This location had thousands (not an exaggeration) of different items in it spread over 4 floors. One extremely noticeable difference between fashion in London compared to Toronto is that anything goes on the streets here. There are no rules of fashion and you wouldn’t stand out in a crowd if you chose to wear the most bizarre pattern combination you could think of.

Also on Oxford Street was Primark. This store made me happy because I don’t think I saw one thing over £20 including their boots and jackets! They had everything you would want in a high-end fashion store then plus some with an affordable house and home section. David & I made our first London home purchase here of some face cloths, a fitted sheet, pillow cases and a flat sheet all for the grand total of £18. This is our store to shop in!

Once we walked most of Oxford Street we went down to Piccadilly Circus (pictured in the featured image of the post). We could tell immediately why this is such a popular meeting spot. David PurkissThe theatres are all close by as well as shopping and a bunch of restaurants. David found a small music shop down one of the roundabout streets with an insane amount of acoustic guitars. Down in the basement though was a room just for him with a bunch of bass guitars. Although it’s not quite in our budget to purchase an instrument he was very happy we found this store. Some brands are the same as back home but most were unfamiliar. I’m sure we will be back here.

After hanging around Piccadilly Circus for a bit we went to check out the famous Carnaby Street. This street is lined with unique boutiques. My favourite boutique was Irregular Choice (image right). Irregular ChoiceThe shop had beautifully designed shoes unlike any I have ever seen before. I could have easily spent the entire day staring at them however the longer we stayed in the store the more I wanted a pair of my own. The best thing about London shoes are the heels. They are at a perfect height of 1-2 inches making it easy to walk for longer periods of time. Love it!

Another great store we checked out on Carnaby Street was Johnny Cupcakes. The interior of the store is all set up like a bakery and they sell printed t-shirts with a cupcake on them. This is the only London location however there are a few others is the US as well as their headquarters. Johnny Cupcakes is a perfect example of how to tell your brand story in a compelling way to your audience.